Sunday, 11 January 2015

Poland 1939 Campaign


Black Tree Design recently had one of their incredibly generous sales, and I took the opportunity to pick up a (roughly) platoon's worth of Gebirgsjäger. The Gebirgsjäger were mountain infantry who were an elite element of the Wehrmacht and fought with great valour in every theatre of the Second World War. My particular interest in them is due to their actions in North East Finland, holding back the Red tide.

Gebirgsjäger in Poland, 1939. Notice the Edelweiss on the right shoulder and the fact that these troops are wearing their helmets rather than field caps. 
These troops are particularly famous for their Edelweiss emblem, which was worn on both their right sleeves and the left hand side of their field caps. So in terms of painting that is certainly something I will be looking to highlight, just to make these troops look distinct from other German troops. In a similar vein, many of these figures are wearing their field caps, when in reality they would wear their helmets in combat, but much like fielding Napoleonic troops in their parade uniforms on the battlefield, this is a liberty I am willing to take. Call it artistic license if you must.

The more common image of the Gebirgsjäger in his field cap. 
I've decided to play out the opening campaign of the Second World War, Poland September 1939, following the movements of the Gebirgsjäger in the South of that country. The Gebirgsjäger fought their first engagements in this campaign as part of Army Group South under Field Marshal Rundstedt as part of 1st Gebirgs Division. Their part in this campaign was not nearly as spectacular as the rapid advances in the West, but culminates in the battle of Lviv (Lwow/Lemberg) in what is now Ukraine. In broad strokes, the division descended from the Slovakian Carpathians (with Slovak Army Bernolak in support) towards Lviv. The advance was hampered by stubborn Polish resistance, before Lviv was besieged. German attempts to take the city met with failure in the face of intense resistance. Citizen militias were armed for the defence, and eventually the famous 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade broke into the city to aid in its defence. 

A map detailing the general lines of advance into Poland. I will be focussed on the South East around Lwow.
As the Germans awaited reinforcements, the Soviet invasion of Poland began. And in a few days Soviet forces met German forces on the outskirts of Lviv completing its encirclement. With this, the Polish forces in the town negotiated a surrender with the Soviets, which was naturally dishonoured by the perfidious Russians, and many of the Polish officers taken were later murdered in the Katyn massacre of 1940.

1. Gebirgsdivision
The scope of this campaign is incredibly brief as it only covers the events of the 1st of September through to the surrender of Lviv on the 22nd. The two forces opposing each other are the 1st Gebirgs Division and Polish forces under General Franciszek Sikorski, with the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade under Colonel Maczek arriving on around the 13th of September.

One of the most iconic units of World War II, the Polish "Black Brigade" or 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade. 
A large part of this campaign will be played solo, using a combination of ideas from Donald Featherstone's Solo Wargaming, scenarios from Joseph Legan's Platoon Forward, and Rich Clarke's At the Sharp End campaign rules for Chain of Command, and of course, the rules will be the excellent platoon level game Chain of Command. I will keep a campaign diary to track the events of the campaign, which might diverge from history depending on the outcome of the actions. I hope that this will both amuse me, and be of interest to readers. I must admit that I have been recently inspired by the English Civil War campaign diary of Ian (TheDiomedef16) who keeps a blog to this end, have a look at this very entertaining campaign diary.

I'll need to paint up the opposing forces in 28mm, which should be achievable in almost no time. As mentioned above, I'll be using Black Tree Design for the Gebirgsjäger, and chances are I will pick up some Gorgon Studios Gebirgsjäger for support weapons and variety. Polish miniatures will be largely Warlord Games, with some Black Tree Design Polish, and Gorgon Studios for the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade. Expect to see review videos and painting tutorials popping up on the blog over the next while. 

Part of the enjoyment of this campaign is the learning aspect. I'll be doing a lot of reading and staring at maps over the period of the campaign and I'll no doubt share this experience and any interesting tidbits of information I come across. My first bit of reading is underway: